By July 1, at least 11 Frederick County Public Schools central office employees will be clearing out their desks and heading back to classrooms.
At the same time, school system officials are bringing in some new faces — including two new top-level administrators — to help focus on priorities, such as the new Common Core State Standards Initiative, the increasing number of English language learners and the new middle school program for highly-capable students.
The changes are part of an ongoing central office reorganization initiated by Frederick County Schools Superintendent Theresa Alban in January, not long after she was appointed to lead the school system.
“We are not adding more people,” said Alban, who stressed the central office reorganization not only will be cost-neutral, but might even result in savings.
The reorganization will take place in two phases, the first of which should be completed by July. Other changes later in the year might affect school system operations.
“The central office has absorbed a lot of cuts. And those cuts were starting to take a toll on people,” Alban said.
When Alban first came in, the school system was structured in a way that required her to oversee eight administrators, including two associate superintendents. Ann Bonitatibus, the associate superintendent for secondary schools, had to oversee 16 administrators.
Alban wanted to simplify that, and has reduced the number of people who report to her to three. She has appointed Bonitatibus to serve as the new chief operating officer; Steve Lockard will be the new deputy superintendent.
In her new role, Bonitatibus will oversee school operations, such as finances, facilities and human resources, while Lockard will handle curriculum and instruction. The school system legal services director, Jamie Cannon, also will report to Alban.
In the next tier of administration, Alban has created two new positions that will pay between $130,000 and $150,000. Jason Anderson, whose job leading elementary curricular innovation and implementation is being eliminated, has been promoted to one of the new positions — executive director for Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment and Innovation. The school system is seeking a new executive director for administration and leadership.
“That position was a direct result of feedback I was hearing from the schools,” Alban said. “We felt that it was essential to bring back that position.”
In addition, the school system is creating five new positions, including one new teacher specialist for advanced learning, one curriculum specialist and two coordinators for STEM and professional development.
To absorb these changes without additional cost to the system, school officials have eliminated at least nine central office teacher specialists and two curriculum specialists, said Anderson, who has been working on the changes.
Central office employees who go back to the classroom will see a reduction in salaries.
“It’s a very sensitive issue. In many cases the teacher specialists will return to the buildings, to a classroom setting,” he said.
Curriculum specialists whose positions were eliminated were given a chance to apply for assistant principal and principal positions. So far, all 11 employees have been able to find placements, Anderson said.
“It has been hard, but I think it will ultimately serve the system well,” Alban said.